Meditation is possible only if the ego (‘I’) is kept up. There is the ego (‘I’) and the object meditated upon. The method is indirect. Whereas the Self is one. Seeking the ego’s source it disappears. What is left is the Self. This method is direct.
An American lady seeker came to India in search of truth. She went from ashram to ashram and kept asking what is common unalterable dictum underlying Vedanta. Wherever she went the reply was the same. The word is ‘unreal’ and Brahman alone is ‘real’. She knew nothing about Brahman.
On the other hand she was aware of the world with its myriad beauty, with all its bewildering variety. How could it be unreal? Was there no truth in her relationships with ‘her people’ ‘her family’, ‘her friends’ and ‘the society’? Was it all meaningless? Were her bank account and economic circumstance inconsequential?
Was she to deny the evidence of her eyes, her ears and indeed all her senses? Bewildered and confused she came to Sri Ramanasraman. The master asked, ‘What happens to your ‘real world’ in sleep? Do you exist then, let alone your world? Again, was your dream world the same as your waking world? Were your friends able to give you their company when you were feeling lonely and lost while dreaming?
How can the phenomena which keeps coming and going be real?’ Slowly the truth dawned on her.
She could realise the error in seeing the world as apart from the perceiver, apart from the continuing substratum of all the daily states of waking, dream, and sleep.
We too have to recognise this truth. It is time to step out of illusion. Otherwise we could be trying to ride two horses simultaneously.
One would be clinging to one’s worldly attachments and seeking that which can dawn only when their hold loosens and drops off.
But this knowledge is only the first step. Fidelity is unknown to thought. It keeps flirting in contra-directions, attracted by pulls and contra-pulls and innate tendencies, which keep playing games more puzzling than the tricks that a magician pulls out of his hat.
One must remain the victim of the mind’s many allurements and illusions so long as one has separated oneself from the mind. Unless this primary ignorance regarding the mind as separate from oneself is ended there is no escape from mind’s vagaries. For one is the mind. The whole thought structure with all its intricate patterns is for the thinker. The thinker and his thoughts are an integrated whole.
Where are thoughts without the thinker? Why don’t they come to life when his attention is absent? Once this is recognized we are on the right track. We have laid our hands on the malaise.
We have diagnosed the cause of the mental muddle. We have arrived at the point that as long as the thinker is not the focus of one’s attention, any sadhana to control the mind, to be free of its illusions, would be peripheral and perhaps even counter-productive.
Having come thus far we are still baffled when we start fixing attention on the question ‘to whom do these thoughts relate?’ Baffled, because we are so used to thinking in terms of solutions within the framework of the mind.
Counter ‘bad’ thoughts with ‘good’ thoughts, give up desires and so on. The whole approach is foredoomed for the very act of pruning thoughts gives them strength as the pruning of the leaves of a tree would lead only to their profuse and lustrous growth.
Hence the root and branch ‘revolution’ of Ramana, which enables side-stepping the world of thoughts through ‘subjective’ sadhana. It is not the usual subject-object oriented way but an exclusive focus on the subject, the thinker.
Having troubles concentrating?
Along the path problems crop up. All of us know only too well the deafening roar of thoughts crowding in whenever an attempt is made to create a thought vacuum.
It is almost as if the dirty muck is being churned. There is such a volcanic surfacing of thoughts in quick and benumbing succession. One wonders whether one has succeeded only in opening up the Pandora’s box in attempting to meditate. How are we to meet the challenges posed by hidden thoughts?
For it is easy to be disheartened in the face of this thought-explosion, easy to give up or become lukewarm in sadhana. To complain about this situation is like asking why the water boils in a kettle kept on an electric stove.
The very purpose of lighting the torch of enquiry about who the thinker is through the simple query ‘who am I?’ is to expose the enemy, the innumerable thoughts which lie camouflaged in seed form in the heart.
By all means let them come out singly or in groups or in their battalions or regimental strength. They cannot disturb your poise unless you let them. What power do they have merely because of their numerical strength?
The load of unnecessary junk
Ramana compares the way we load our minds with layers and layers of thoughts to a man ‘who fills all the rooms of his house with loads of unnecessary junk’.
Ramana would add that ‘if all the false ideas and impressions are swept away what remains is only the plenitude of the Self’.
This is possible only if you do not ‘run with the running mind’. Thoughts should not be given any foothold.
There should be no loopholes for their surreptitious entry. A precondition is to starve thoughts. For heavens sake do not pay attention to them.
Let the focal point of your attention remain always on the thinker. So long as this attention is not allowed to stray one can be sure to go beyond the limitations of bizarre and uncontrolled thoughts.
What happens when the single minded focus is on the thinker is quite surprising. Surprising because we do not except it, because we do not know how it occurs. It is totally unexpected but it happens.
The idea of a separate thinker disappears. What is meant by this? The sense of individuality ceases. One becomes aware that nothing exists apart from oneself. The unity of the conscious source, the individual, and the world is experienced. All life pulsates in oneness. Oh! for the joy of it and the beauty of its benediction!
A.R.Natarajan Founder President, Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning, Bangalore